Location: Cork City, Ireland
Together since: 2007
Type: Spaniel mix
Favorite dog group: Glansillagh Animal Rescue
Finding the dog that is meant for you shouldn’t be like finding a needle in a haystack, but in my case, a haystack nearly got in the way.
There’s a lady named Barbara Bowles who’s keeping her claim to the final frontier of rural life in the encroaching suburbs of Cork City, Ireland. She lives in a renovated stone mill on a stream that’s more mill than house, and more a home to her laissez-faire dog rescue operation than to her partner, Doc, and her four sons.
At any time when you pass through the gates to their place you’ll find a motley assembly of cars & tractors in advanced and not-so states of disrepair, splintering skate board ramps, and washing on the line that’s inhaling the aroma of the various animals roaming about. In addition to 30-odd dogs looking for a home, it includes hens, a couple of pigs, and always lots of horses.
The granny, Barbara Senior, is usually around, too. She’s a tiny old lady with a posh Irish accent who’s entirely unfazed by the constant traffic of teenagers, cars and creatures. She’s always up for a chat, including a long one with me just weeks after by-pass surgery.
Barbara Junior is an equestrian, riding instructor, and unparalleled animal lover. Her son, Marc, is a champion show jumper, and a classmate of my son, Owen. That’s how I, an ex-pat American living in Cork, got to know her.
Barbara knew I was desperate to find the right dog for our family. I’d been haunting the dog orphanage in Cork City during my lunch hours, with no luck. She knew I was fussy, and promised to keep her eyes open for an eligible match.
One day in the summer of ’06 she was dropping Marc at our house and said, “I think I have a dog for you. His name is Rudy. Come meet him.” So the next day Owen and my other son, Harris, and I drove out to Glanmire.
Scores of dogs and every one of the teenagers, pigs, hens, and horses joined in the search for Rudy, but the promised pup couldn’t be found. We were just about to give up and head home when a boy came running to us with a dog in his arms saying, “I found him sleeping in the haystack!”
Barbara is a brilliant match-maker. My three teenagers gracefully accept that Rudy now holds the honored position of favorite child. We take long walks along Cork harbor where he is allowed to get in touch with his essential doggie nature, off leash, slopping in silty low tide muck, lapping from tidal pools slick with heavy metal effluvium, running in endless ecstatic circles, chasing sandpipers with impossible optimism, sharing sniffs with others of his kind, while I, his doting mother, look on with beaming pride.
Barbara and Doc run their dog rescue operation out of their pure passion for animals. They spend about $12,000 a year of their own money for food and vets. As Barbara says, they beg, borrow, but don’t steal, to keep their work running. At any time they have about 30 dogs in need of homes.
Their website is still under construction–not surprisingly, they’re relying on volunteers to get it up. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations to help other dogs like Rudy find a home are appreciated.